Hiking & Biking Steamboat
Our top picks for Steamboat’s Best Hiking & Biking Trails
The Steamboat Springs area is home to a wonderful assortment of trails, and there really is something for everyone. The mountain scenery in the Yampa Valley is truly something special, and a day out on the trail is the best way to take it all in! From a mellow cruise along the river in town, to steep and challenging trails through the mountains, there are opportunities for the beginner to the extreme hiker/biker (with ample choices for everyone in between).
Below are details on several of our favorite trails in the area, starting with the easiest and ending with the toughest. Also, be sure to read the update on the gondola construction below, as it will impact trail access on the resort.
Yampa Core Trail
The Core Trail is a 7.5-mile paved trail that spans most of the town of Steamboat and follows the beautiful Yampa River the entire way. You can start and finish at a variety of places, going the full distance or opting for just a portion. It is almost entirely flat, making it a great option for family outings, or those who are looking to get their legs and lungs adjusted to the altitude.
Not only is the Core Trail a great option for bikers, walkers, and runners to see the town of Steamboat, but also provides access to other attractions around town such as the Botanic Garden, the rodeo grounds, and various shops and restaurants.
Local’s tip: Stop on one of the bridges that cross over the Yampa River. They are a fun place to take a family photo, or simply rest and watch the tubers or fly fishers!
Spring Creek Trail is one of the most popular trails in town. It is extremely easy to access with its trailhead in the heart of downtown, and provides hikers and bikers with a well maintained, moderately graded trail that winds into the foothills along a scenic creek. This is a great trail for those looking for a short to middle distance out-and-back with the option to turn around at any point.
Local’s tip: Bring lots of water. This trail gets warm in the middle of summer.
The Mad Creek Trail is a wonderful option if you are looking to get out of town, but you don’t want to drive too far. The trailhead is located just 10 minutes from downtown Steamboat and provides hikers and bikers with a well maintained out and back option. This trail runs right along Mad Creek the whole time, and provides users with amazing canyon scenery the entire way.
Local’s tip: Go all the way to the barn! Only a 3 mile round trip, the historic Mad Creek Barn is a must see.
Emerald provides the easiest access from town for both mountain bikers and hikers to get on a trail system. The main trailhead is within walking distance of central downtown, and provides access to a huge network of trails (including a downhill only bike trail). You really can choose your own adventure on Emerald, whether you want to take a short stroll up a mellow green trail, or spend a full day exploring the more technical upper mountain trails. The views are incredible from the top as you look across the valley at the ski resort, the town, and the surrounding hills.
Local’s tip: Pack a snack and a beverage and head up the Blackmere trail until you reach the quarry. This is a great spot to hang out, rest the legs, and take in the views!
Fish Creek Falls
Fish Creek Falls really does have something for everyone. Just a few miles from downtown Steamboat, this trail provides access to see one of the most iconic attractions in the area. Open year round, the hike from the parking lot to view the main falls is only a 0.5 mile round trip. For those looking to explore farther, you can keep going another 2 miles to get to the upper falls. And for the serious adventurers, you can take this trail 6 miles all the way to Long Lake. This area can provide users anything from a quick stroll to a full day excursion on a technical and rugged single-track.
Local’s tip: Bring a camera, the views at the lower falls are stunning!
The Buff Pass area is a trail lover’s paradise. Providing breathtaking views of the Yampa Valley, the area is a favorite among locals, and offers a few excellent options for both hikers and mountain bikers looking to get out of town and get some fresh air. There are several loops to check out on Buff Pass, but the newly constructed Flash of Gold Trail has quickly become a favorite. For a more technical mountain biking experience, Grouse is often touted as one of the best trails anywhere around Steamboat.
Local’s tip: The pass can be a bumpy drive, and the road gets rockier the farther up the pass you go. An SUV isn’t necessarily required but is definitely recommended!
The trailhead for Hahn’s peak is about 40 minutes from downtown Steamboat, but it is well worth the drive. The trail to the summit is only about 4 miles round trip, but it is steep! Also, there are some tough spots near the top with loose gravel, roots, and variable conditions so a good pair of hiking shoes is recommended. Once you reach the top, you will be rewarded with 360 degree views of the lush mountainous landscape, including a look at the nearby Steamboat Lake from above. This trek is truly a one of a kind hiking experience!
Local’s tip: Check the weather! Conditions at the top can change in a hurry, so be sure to come prepared with proper gear such as a rain jacket, sunscreen, water, etc.
The Devil’s Causeway is one of the best hikes in the Steamboat area, even though it’s an hour drive to get to the trailhead. This is because of the jaw dropping views it provides from the top. Located in the Flat Tops Wilderness Area, this hike is a fairly strenuous adventure that can be a 6 mile out and back or a 10 mile loop. At the 3 mile mark, you come across an incredibly unique rock feature; a land bridge only about 6 feet wide with large drop-offs on either side. It’s very thrilling to walk across, but the Causeway is not for the faint of heart! **Note: because this trail is mostly in a wilderness area, mountain bikes are not permitted**
Local’s tip: Don’t worry about crossing the Causeway. You can always turn around and head back to the car if it looks scary. And the views from the turnaround point are well worth the hike even if you opt out of crossing!
***Steamboat Gondola Updates***
We are excited to announce that Steamboat Resort will be getting a new gondola for the 2019/2020 ski season! However, the construction of this new gondola will have a major impact on the summer operations for the mountain.
The biggest impact of the construction project will be on the Steamboat Bike Park. This is a huge attraction for visitors and locals and is normally serviced by the gondola. The bike park will still be open this season but will be serviced by the Christie Peak lift instead. This means a reduction in accessible downhill mountain biking trails, with only the trails below the level of Christie Peak being open this summer.
However, once summer operations begin at the resort all of the multi-use trails on the mountain will still be open for mountain biking and hiking! These trails are a great way to take in the views of downtown and the surrounding mountains from above.